The book itself was very interesting. It covers the events and circumstances leading up to the war, along with the first month of the war, prior to the stalemate trench warfare on the Western front. It was a bit more difficult than other audiobooks, in that there were so many names and details to keep track of. I really had to focus at times, and used the "skip back" feature quite a lot.
The narration was excellent. I couldn't quite place the narrator's native accent, but he would seamlessly go between British, French, German, Russian, and American accents when quoting people. In the back of my mind, I know that the real persons would have been speaking their own languages, but it added a subtle cue that helped me to keep track of the many persons and their respective nationalities.
If you are deciding between this audiobook and the other version on Audible, definitely go with this one.
I'm interested in WW1 and the factors that caused the war to happen, but this is very complex and over the head of most casual readers. I found it very boring and way to complex to what I was looking for. I did not finish the book, did not keep my interest.
Absolutely. I have done. In the year that's in it, I think everyone should listen to it. It's a stark reminder of what went before ... and an education in the frailty of man. History can sometimes glorify war. Not this time. Superbly researched and brilliantly narrated.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing. Incredibly, they were contemporaneous. They have everything - and nothing - in common.
No. I found it draining. I re-listened to bits of it - it was so hard to believe. I tried to pace it so as to make it last. In fact, I wanted to time the end so that I could listen to it on the train on my way into Sarajevo ... but the recent floods (as opposed to “some damned foolish thing in the Balkans”, as Bismarck put it) meant the train from Zagreb wasn't operating last weekend.
Listen to it in 2014. Note that it only covers the first month of the war ... Read Birdsong, a novel by Sebastian Faulks, if you want to imagine how the rest of it was like!
No B.S. reviews. I'll never soft-pedal bad writing or inept narration.
This is a great book—a great read for history buffs, and essential for students of military history. The writing is crisp, intelligent, and insightful. This book is everything you could want in a telling of the events and politics leading up to the Great War, and of its first two years—inclusive of the battles that made Germany's defeat inevitable.
Barbara Tuchman's research is flawless. Every aspect of the military planning—on all sides—leading up to the conflict and into the fray, are covered in spendid detail. And the philosophies and motives that drove the major players are brilliantly brought to life in her clear and wonderful telling.
This is a tragic tale. History is gifted with this concise recounting of the madness, the chaos, and the ignorance that brought it about. Thank you, Ms. Tuchman, for your insights—hopefully, we will all benefit from it.
As a companion piece to this masterwork, consider "Catastrophe 1914" by Max Hastings. It brings a different—yet equally valid—perspective to the beginnings of WWI, one I would characterize as deeply human, with nuanced insights into the characters and politics of the time.
As to the narration, John Lee is a competent narrator, yet I must protest the silliness of his portrayal of French, German, and Russian protagonists. When he quotes historical figures, he affects accented English to represent them. I found this strange, comical, and after a while, annoying.
What—are we to believe that Germans and Russians would speak to one another, not in their native language, but in some weird approximation of English? For me, it would have strained the limits of credibility far less, and been much less distracting had he stuck to un-affected English.
Tell us about yourself! Lifelong reader and passionate pursuer of knowledge. I love Audible because I never have to stop reading.
I learned a significant amount about early 20th century world history, and just how asinine human behavior can be. Almost too much information, but still am very glad I listened.
Informative, Opinionated, Interesting.
His use of inconsistent accents was distracting. I have listened to espionage thrillers that require the narrator to use several different accents consistently and those narrators seem to do better in that regard. He seemed to sometimes default to a French accent when quoting Russian, British, and German principals much of the time. Each of these nationalities has their own distinct accent.
The French general who knew that he was getting poor intelligence from French HQ and was forced into a retreat against orders was moving. He did what he had to do and was correct in most cases, but became overcautious later due to distrust of French HQ and the BEF and was forced out.
The author did a wonderful job of describing the foibles of the men in the high political and military command of the principle countries. She demonstrated how their mistakes led to the long, drawn out affair that WWI became and to some extent how the poor treatment of Germany following Allied victory resulted from their own treatment of civilians in the war. Some of their actions were not that much different than events that would occur thirty years later in the Holocaust. Obviously the German government learned nothing about how actions like this could rally the world against them while they were designed to quell unrest in conquered areas. Her sources obviously shared no lost love with the CinC of the BEF as he was portrayed as a soldier who was unreliable to his allies and too concerned with protecting his own career and people at the cost of other commands. Nobody else was portrayed to that extent in that light.
She also had an annoying habit for audiobook of using French and German phrases without providing any kind of translation and then continuing with her story as though all of the readers understood that phase.
for a thorough treat, look at maps of the front lines while you're listening to the book.
A Distant Mirror, because her narrative skills are so amazing.
The storm before the deluge.
Barbara W. Tuchman is one of the world's greatest 20th Century Historians. Her writting lets you see, feel, and now hear history.
Reading ( hearing) Tuchman, you can see the Generals and Politicians bumbling thier way into a world catastrophy. You can almost see the suprise on thier faces when it all goes wrong.
Will read (or in this case, listen) to just about anything.
Big history buff so enjoyed it. That said, for those looking for a lighter listen - not for you. Saying it's detail heavy would be an understatement. Also, there were some very annoying narrative components that I didn't appreciate. In particular, the faux French-German-Russian accents used for the major 'characters' could occasionally be eye-rollingly-annoying. As side note, the thick Russian accents he used for the Czar and Czarina were particularly hard to stomach (they were both fluent in English; she was actually German but spent a large chunk of her life in the UK - she was Queen Victoria's favorite granddaughter after all).
Tuchman is a fine writer, and the narration is very good. The most impressive feature of the book to me is the depth of her research; she really seems to know exactly what was happening at all times in all places during the summer of 1914. I must admit, though, I found the narrative, while compelling, difficult to follow at times just because of the number of characters involved. I do like her caustic wit, though; she's great at exposing the pretensions and follies of the people in charge.